“My Walk from Nowhere,” Ensign, Oct. 1997, 64–65
My husband, Don, and I, who were both born with cerebral palsy, eagerly accepted an invitation from the Bennett family to join them and other ward members and friends on their annual horse trek, a relaxing three-day camping trip in Sequoia National Park. For me, cerebral palsy is mostly an inconvenience, but for Don it is a daily challenge, so we jumped at this special opportunity to get out of town, even if we could stay only a day.
On the day of the camping trip, we left home about nine in the morning. The ride was beautiful, and we rolled down our windows to enjoy the fresh mountain air. As we drove our van into the national forest, we began looking for Big Meadow, where we were to meet our friends. We stopped once to look at the valley below us and to check the map Brother Bennett had provided. It appeared we had about 10 miles to go to reach a dirt road that would take us to the campground. However, 3 or 4 miles farther along we saw a sign listing Big Meadow with an arrow that pointed up a dirt road leading to our left. We turned left and traveled for some time. The road narrowed, then ran through a creek bed. We began to wonder if we had made a mistake.
I stopped the van and turned to Don. “This cannot possibly be the right road; there is no way a horse trailer could get through here.”
Don agreed. I proceeded down the narrow, winding path looking for a place big enough to turn our van around. As we started up a sandy hill, I realized we could never make it. I started to back up, but the wheels sank deep in the loose, sandy soil. We were stuck.
I turned the wheel this way and that, gunning the engine and rocking the vehicle, all to no avail. I stepped out of the van to see how serious our situation was. The tires on the driver’s side were buried at least a foot deep in sand. After several useless attempts to dig us out, I got out the car jack and attempted to raise the back end of the van so I could place some logs or twigs—whatever I could find—under the tire to give it some traction. With each fruitless attempt, we prayed fervently to Heavenly Father that he would bless us and help us out of our difficulty.
Finally Don advised me to sit down, rest, and eat some lunch. We talked about our options. During the two hours we had been struggling to get free, we had not seen anyone. The only thing to do was for me to walk back to the road and get help. Physically I felt I could do it. I might take a few falls, but I expected that. If I walked slowly and carefully and thought about each step, I would make it.
I helped Don move into a comfortable position. Because he would not be able to brush away insects if any began crawling on him, I closed the windows in the van. Then I took off my watch and strapped it to Don’s wheelchair. I knew he would need to know the time more than I would. Then Don prayed that we might each receive needed strength, guidance, and protection. With misty eyes and a quick kiss, I stepped out of the van and began walking.
After walking a long time I made it back to the main road with only one fall, which served as a reminder not to hurry. There I waited for someone to stop and offer help, but that didn’t happen. So I started walking again in the direction of Big Meadow.
Several vehicles passed me, but none slowed. I fell again. But I hurried to get up on my feet so no one would notice. My eyes began to mist up. I was getting tired and didn’t know how much farther I would have to walk.
As I rounded a curve in the road, I saw a beautiful, green, lush meadow ahead. This had to be the place. As I approached, I heard the sound of people having a good time. Then I came upon a dirt road and ahead saw corrals, just as it appeared on Brother Bennett’s map. A sign said, “Campground .5 mile.” My heart sank. I didn’t know if I could walk another step.
I struggled up the dirt road and passed the first campsite. A couple was sitting side by side enjoying the peaceful park. The man cheerfully called to me, “You are taking quite a walk today. We passed you on the road several hours ago.”
Fighting to hold back tears, I asked if there were other campers farther down. Sensing my distress, he came quickly to my side. As I explained what had happened, I broke down in tears. The kind gentleman, a stranger, held me close in his arms and assured me that everything would be all right.
He went in search of the Bennett party and soon offered the use of his four-wheel-drive vehicle to help pull out our van. As we rode along, I whispered a prayer of thanksgiving and love to my Heavenly Father. As I reflected on my long walk, I realized I had been blessed with needed strength, guidance, and protection, just as Don had prayed.